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The Verdict

Paul Newman has rarely been better than he was in 1982's THE VERDICT. Looking tired and spent, he embodies the role of former superstar attorney Frank Galvin.

After losing his reputation, Galvin spends his days and nights in a neighborhood bar, only varying his drink of choice from Scotch at night to beer in the morning, embellished with a raw egg on some early mornings for that breakfast touch.

His office is a mess, he's a rumpled shadow of his former self and his cases have dried up.

His only friend Mickey (the flawless Jack Warden) brings him a sure fire case as a gift. A young woman has been put into a coma due to a surgeon's error at a major Boston Catholic hospital.

The church wants to settle, the parents want to settle, the doctors want to settle.

Frank visits the young woman in the hospital and it stirs something in him. A chance for redemption, A moment to do something right for a change.

He grows determined to take the case to court. He'll face some serious challenges along the way.

A judge who clearly favors the church and the doctors, perfectly played by Milo O'Shea (QBVII). The church's attorney Concannon ( the terrific James Mason) armed with an army of staff all aiming for Frank.

With the power of the Catholic Church erecting every gauntlet they can between Galvin and the truth, Frank and Mickey spend night and day digging through records and searching for leverage.

Charlotte Rampling (The Night Porter, Melancholia) is Laura, a fellow alcoholic that Frank meets in his local pub in a twisted bit of timing.

Director Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) is a great filmmaker. The opening and closing scenes of the film show Frank in solitude. Dialogue free, Newman conveys everything you need to see.

Long sequences are quiet, some are explosive. One scene with Frank barricading himself in his bathroom as a panic attack over takes him is some of Newman's finest acting. He desperation to gain control, to flee and to dive into a bottle wrestle in front of your eyes.

Newman's Oscar nominated performance is excellent.

It always helps when you have the great David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Games) writing your words, and this cast delivers them perfectly.

THE VERDICT is powerful, suspenseful and loaded with quiet surprises. Newman's quest for redemption delivers everything you want in a courtroom drama and a character study. THE VERDICT is a unanimous A on all fronts.

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